Cutting Edge

June 1, 2004
A look at new products.


The E-Truck uses no hydraulic systems. The truck features an electromechanical steering system, and actuators for lifting, tilting, side shifting, mast height control and direct-drive traction motors. Sensors detect steering requirements and supply a steering-angle set-point signal to the electronic control unit. The unit calculates the necessary actuator travel for the wheels to be turned and actuates the wheels accordingly. This eliminates the need for a steering column. The prototype truck increases operator and energy efficiency and reduces maintenance. SKF,, 800-440-4753.


eVistionFactory software is a component-based system, using open standards, specifically for robotic vision and designed for building VGR solutions. It is a combination of vision technology, systems engineering and Internet wireless support. Benefits include rapid development and deployment offering a consistent interface, transferable training, component integration and upgradeable architecture. Braintech Inc., c/o ABB Inc.,, 248-219-4330.


GripBoard works as a pallet separator. Made from recycled, waterproof, high-density polyethylene, its gripping surface reduces material shifting and sliding. The flexible separator can temporarily conform to fit any material. A cost-effective alternative to plywood, Grip Board eliminates splinters that injure workers and jam automatic equipment. It does not deteriorate in harsh environments, and can be easily cleaned, reused and even recycled. TransPac,, 888-265-5455.


A conveyor manufacturer was experiencing excessive AM radio interference with the drive brand it was using. It spent countless hours and tested many demo drives from various manufacturers who all said they could solve this problem. Many of the drives caused AM radio interference just when powered up. Others had the problem only when running. The FM radio band was also an issue for most manufacturers. None of the manufacturers had any idea how to solve the problem. That’s when the customer turned to Hitachi.

The Hitachi inverter did not exhibit noise in the FM band. This established the benchmark for performance. Hitachi then set out to resolve the AM noise problem. The first step was to understand the environment in which the drives were operating. The facility was in a metal building. During testing, interference was occurring with the AM radios in the trucks waiting for loads of coal all the way across the street

Next, Hitachi investigated the grounding system. The customer had used the ground from the incoming utility supply to ground the inverter and motor. Hitachi suspected that the ground was connected to the metal building exterior either directly or indirectly. It took some time, but Hitachi made the case that the metal building might be acting like a huge antenna.

At Hitachi’s suggestion, the customer drove a metal stake into the ground away from the metal building. The customer ran a ground lead from the inverter and motor to the stake and continued with the testing. To their surprise, the AM noise diminished dramatically. Then, with the addition of a special Hitachi-supplied AM filter, the noise has been virtually eliminated. Hitachi America Ltd.,, 914-524-6645.